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VA appeals take long time

By Dennis Birchall

By Dennis Birchall
Bandera County Veterans Service Officer

Veterans complain all the time about how long their VA appeals take. However, often, they fail to understand the process. To answer some of their questions, I accessed the 2014 Veteran Board of Appeals Report to Congress in an effort. That was the latest report posted online.
When a veteran submits a claim to the Veterans Administration and it gets denied, the veteran can live with the denial or appeal the denial within one year of the denial by filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD). In 2014, the VA received 137,766 NODs from 1,321,000 claims rated.
In 2014, it took the VA an average of 330 day to provide a Summary of Case (SOC) to a veteran once the VA received their NOD. After receiving the SOC, a form 9 requesting a formal board hearing must be submitted within 60 days.
After the Veteran Board of Appeals (VBA) receives the NOD, it begins the process of certifying the claim for the formal Appeals Board. If the veteran has new evidence to submit, the VBA may schedule a board hearing and issue a Summary Statement of Case (SSOC) before certifying for a formal board hearing. In 2014, this process averaged 681 days.
In 2014, it took an average of 357 days from the time the appeal was certified by the VBA Appeals Management Center (AMC) until the appeals board made its decision was 357 days. Of the 55,532 board decisions 16,191 (29.2 percent) were allowed; 11,934 (21.5 percent) were denied; 25,277 (45.5 percent) were remanded back to the VBA for further development; and, 2,130 (3.8 percent) had some other action taken.
Most claims are remanded back to the VBA because veterans try to submit new evidence at the formal board instead of during the VBA certification process. This only adds to the appeal timeline.
If the board denies a veteran’s claim, the veteran still has the option to take the case through the Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims, all the way to the Supreme Court.
For more information on the VA appeals process, http://www.bva.va.gov/Chairman_Annual_Rpts.asp.